One of the jurors who convicted Whitey Bulger started up a strange pen pal friendship with him

I was on Cape Cod this past weekend — specifically, the town of Eastham, which is way up by the wrist and fairly desolate in winter. What I didn't know at the time was that Janet Uhlar, one of the juror's from Whitey Bulger's trial, was right around the corner from me the whole time. Along with the collection of handwritten letters she'd received from him between 2014 and his totally suspicious prison death in 2018.

NBC News just published a piece about Uhlar and her relationship with Bulger, and how she came to regret her decision to convict him on racketeering charges and 11 counts of murder.

Uhlar started writing Bulger, she said, because she was troubled by the fact that much of the evidence against him came through testimony by former criminal associates who were also killers and had received reduced sentences in exchange for testifying against their former partner in crime.

"When I left the trial, I had more questions," she said.

After Bulger started returning her letters, Uhlar noticed he often dated them with the time he had started writing in his tight cursive style. "He always seemed to be writing at 1, 2 or 3 in the morning, and when I asked him why, he said it was because of the hallucinations," Uhlar said.

Uhlar knew, of course, about Whitey's reputation as a notoriously brutal mobster. And she knew that the FBI had enabled his behavior. Her uncertainty and regret had nothing to do with whether Bulger had actually killed people, either — that's a universally accepted fact at this point. Read the rest

The Barbie Doll Illusion experiment gives you an out-of-body experience

Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet demonstrate the Barbie Doll Illusion experiment.

In this experiment participants experience ownership of a tiny (30cm and 80cm) or a huge (400cm) body. Participants look at the artificial body through a set of head-mounted-displays. They see the body from the perspective of the doll with 3D vision. To induce the illusion of owning the artificial body, the experimentator strokes the participants body and the doll's body at the same place and at the same time. These synchronous strokes cause the brain of the participant to interpret the felt touches to be caused by the rod that they see touching the doll. This makes makes it seem as if the doll's body is the participants body. Next, participants see a cube and their task is to show the size of the cube with their hands. Having the illusion of owning a tiny body causes the world to appear gigantic, and owning a huge body makes the world appear smaller. Importantly, disruption of the Barbie illusion (by asynchronous stroking of the participant and the doll) also diminishes the change in perception. Thus, our OWN body serves as a fundamental reference in perceiving the world around us.

Read the rest